GREENVILLE, N.C. - No. 27 East Carolina (22-8-1, 6-2-1) scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie Houston, 4-4, in Saturday morning’s series finale and the game was called with the score knotted at four after 12 innings due to Conference USA travel rules.
With the tie, ECU had its six-game win streak and nine-game home win streak halted. It was the first tie for the Pirates since a 5-5 contest against Elon on Mar. 5, 2003. The Cougars (11-18-1, 1-7-1) last played to a draw in 1988.
The Pirates struck first with a run in the bottom of the third. Tim Younger led off the inning with a double over the right fielder’s head and came around to score two batters later as Corey Thompson laced an RBI single through the left side.
Houston tied the score in the fifth. Jacob Lueneburg reached first on a two-out single before stealing second and scoring following Chase Jensen’s run-scoring single.
The Cougars raced out to a 4-1 advantage in the top-half of the sixth against Pirate reliever Andy Smithmyer. After Casey Grayson led off the inning with a double on moved to third on Price Jacobs’ sacrifice bunt, Jake Runte dropped down a suicide squeeze bunt to score Grayson. Landon Appling and Lueneberg each produced RBI singles to push Houston’s lead to three.
Smithmyer worked two-thirds of a frame and allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits.
ECU starter Jharel Cotton lasted five innings, allowing just one earned run on five hits while walking one and striking out one.
The Pirates plated three runs in the bottom of the seventh to draw even with the Cougars. Philip Clark (2-for-4) and Younger (3-for-6) singled to lead off the frame and Clark came around to score on an error by Runte. Thompson followed with a ground ball to shortstop, which was misplayed by Jensen, allowing Younger to score. Jay Cannon drove in the final run of the game with a RBI single to center field.
Despite surrendering 13 hits, Houston starter Austin Pruitt yielded just four runs (two earned) and struck out four in eight innings of work.
Neither team was able to plate a run in the final five stanzas.
ECU’s Tanner Merritt was outstanding in relief, tossing a career-best 6 1/3 scoreless frames in which he allowed five hits and recorded one punch out. The sophomore right-hander has not allowed a run in his last 11 2/3 innings of work.
Mo Wiley fired four perfect innings for the Cougars and struck out four in relief.
Jack Reinheimer (2-for-5) and John Wooten (2-for-5) joined Clark and Younger as the only other Pirates to record multi-hit games.
The Pirates return to the diamond on Tuesday night in Burlington, N.C. with an in-state contest against Elon. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. (EST).
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